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John Williams

John Williams, one of 189 convicts transported on the Duke of Portland, January 1807

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: John Williams
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Farmer
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 14 years

Crime: Desertion from army
Convicted at: Chichester Court Martial
Sentence term: 14 years
Ship: Duke of Portland
Departure date: January, 1807
Arrival date: 27th July, 1807
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 194 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/1, Page Number 395 (197)
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Peter Morris on 28th February, 2012 wrote:


b. June 4, 1787         d. September 21, 1854

      It is most likely that John Williams was born at Llangammarch Wells in Breconshire in Wales in 1787 to William Williams and Ann, nee Jones, the youngest of four children.  As was not uncommon for the times John joined the army, not a Welsh regiment but the British Army’s 35th Sussex Regiment and this was when he was just 17.  It was, after all, a time of revolution and riot and, more or less, continuous war with France.  By December 1805 red-headed John, then a 19 year old private, was accused of sedition/desertion.  After the first part of his punishment by flogging he was sent to the hospital at Lewes Barracks and while there and recovering he escaped but was soon recaptured.  On April 22, 1806 John Williams was sentenced at Chichester Barracks and found guilty of “Having deserted on the 9th day of March 1806 from the hospital of the said regiment in Lewes Barracks in the County of Sussex (Sufrex), then being a prisoner in the said hospital and so continuing a deserter until brought back to the said Regiment then lying at Lewes aforesaid on the 30th day of the said month of March.”  He received a 14-year sentence and was transported to New South Wales aboard the Duke of Portland.1 The Duke of Portland, a ship of 523 tons, arrived at Port Jackson on July 27, 1807.2
      John must have ‘kept his nose clean’ because on January 31, 1816 he was accorded a conditional pardon.  The family settled in the Castlereagh district, probably initially with Sarah’s mother Maria and Robert Guy on their farm near the Nepean River.  In 1823 the Williams family moved and settled on a 50 acre grant of land at Camden (West Bargo).  They remained there until 1833 when they sold their land.  However, son Robert had returned to the Castlereagh area in about 1828.  As previously mentioned, John had taken his family on, what was then, a great journey and adventure.  In this respect he was a pioneer of the earliest order.  Consider, it was in the middle of 1823 that there was a ‘push south for new pasture land [which] yielded rich rewards.’  Early pioneering by Commander Currie who, with others, discovered Lake George and generally followed the lead of Hume and Hovell but veering more to the east and continuing ‘south, passing among “fine forest country intersected by stony ranges”, until they came to pasture land which the Aborigines called “Manaroo”.4
      The 1828 Census shows that John, with his family, was a landholder at Camden (West Bargo).  In 1833 they had moved again settling on the banks of Jerrabombera Creek, near present day Queenbeyan.  Nevertheless, by 1839 they had moved again, this time further south to the Monaro district and were leasing a very large property of over 10,000 acres called ‘Head of Curry Flat’ with some 840 head of cattle.  This property was near the present day town of Nimmitabel along the Monaro Highway between Cooma and Bega on the coast.  John and Sarah Williams and their descendents are today honoured as being of the earliest pioneers in the entire area with a commemorative park, named in their memory, ‘Lake Williams’.5
      In the early part of the January in 1814, John, while living at Seven Hills had married Sarah Nash at St. John’s, Parramatta and they were to have 13 children over a period of nearly 30 years.  John died on 21st September 1854 at the age of 67 and ‘he perished in a snow storm at Grosse’s Plain (south of Jindabyne) … having died of “exposure to snow, cold and wet.”’ He is buried along with Sarah in the old Whyalla Road cemetery in Cooma.6 The headstone records:

Convict Changes History

Peter Morris on 28th February, 2012 made the following changes:

gender m

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au